Weekly salon 15/12

1. Thunberg becomes Time Person of the year

From the ABC:

    Time lauded the 16-year-old from Sweden for starting an environmental campaign in August 2018 that became a global movement, initially skipping school and camping in front of the Swedish Parliament to demand action.

    “In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the UN, met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history,” the magazine said.

    “Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year.”

The top five on the shortlist were Nanci Pelosi, Donald Trump, The Whistleblower, The Hong Kong Protestors, and Thunberg.

These were followed by Mark Zuckerberg, Xi Jinping, Megan Rapinoe (an American soccer player), Rudy Guiliani and Jacinda Adern.

People are perhaps selected for their impact rather than because of the good they have done. Previous recipients have included Hitler, Stalin and Krushchev, as well as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The award started in 1927 as “Man of the Year” which continued until 1999 in spite of the award going to American Women in 1975. On the whole politicians dominate the list.

Of this year’s shortlist, Trump (2016) and Zuckerberg (2010) have already had a turn.

2. UK election

The rule of thumb seems to be that the result falls outside the band of poll predictions. However, it is perhaps salutory to realise that the Conservatives won a thumping majority on just 43.6% of the vote. If they end up with 365/650 seats, that means they win 56% of seats.

Peter Brent’s analysis was that Brexit was the decisive factor with a small minority of voters. He says that the popular takeout that the election was “another clip under the ear for out-of-touch elites, another blow for populism” was predictable, tiresome and wrong.

He says that if you add together Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green votes then a little over 50 per cent of UK voters went for a party that wanted a second referendum on Brexit.

The main factors deciding the election are probably:

  • Brexit
  • Corbyn – one of the most disliked PM aspirants ever
  • Labour’s policies
  • the ridiculous first past the post voting system
  • the weather.

Labour’s vote was down 7.8% on current figures to 32.3%.

The LDP’s vote went up by 4.2%, but they lost gained 3 seats and lost 13 to end with 11.

Brexit Party, a new party, gained 2% and no seats. However, in some northern traditional Labour seats the vote was higher than that, up around 8%.

The Greens gained 1.1% to end with 2.7% and no seats, as before.

Two other factors were significant. Firstly, the Scottish National Party increased their vote and will probably win 48 of the 56 seats in Scotland.

Secondly, it looks as though the Irish representatives oriented towards Ireland will outnumber the Unionists.

In both cases Johnston may have more trouble governing for the people who put him there, and trouble keeping the country together. Some think he may be more progressive and less devoted to small-government austerity than the Brits have experienced from the Conservatives since Thatcher.

As to who will lead Labour, five of the six main contenders are women. However, they are all Corbyn supporters, and David Hayes commentary typifies the visceral nature of the hatred for Corbyn, who some see as having degraded and poisoned the party.

3. Word of the year

It depends who you ask.

Merriam Webster have chosen “they” as a gender neutral pronoun used in place of “he” or “she”.

Macquarie Dictionary’s people’s choice went to “robodebt”, but the dictionary committee chose”cancel culture”. Here’s an urban dictionary explanation:

    cancelled or “cancelled culture” basically means if you or anyone does something that’s considered “bad” (being racist, sexist ,manipulative etc.) you would most likely be “cancelled” , basically means no one would look at you in a good way anymore, no respect, etc. this is mostly found on the internet and people who are mainly “cancelled” are celebrities and online influencers

I’d never heard of it, but on reflection I’ve done it a few times. For example, after Josh Frydenberg stood next to Jay Weatherill and babbled on about renewables causing blackouts, when it was a f***ing great storm, I’ve never been able to take him seriously about anything.

The Oxford Dictionary chose “climate emergency”, Collins chose “climate strike” and Macquarie gave “eco-anxiety” an honourable mention.

All understandable.

4. The real Angus Taylor at Oxford

Independent Australia has published an open letter from Dr Denise Meyer who lived just down the hallway from Angus Taylor when he was at Oxford. She says Naomi Wolf was not there, nor did she visit. However, she remembers Angus Taylor explicitly:

    You may not remember when I questioned you about your intention to join New College’s covert men-only drinking society. Known for an exclusive ball where female students receiving sought-after invitations were rated for beauty/sexiness in a secret members’ competition, this not-so-secret club was populated with all the rowing club jocks and wealthy public schoolboys who dominated common room culture.

    We were just acquaintances, but you seemed like a nice guy. And I wanted to understand why you and so many of your peers were drawn to that environment. So I asked. Had you thought about what it might feel like to be your female peer, barred from membership in your exclusive club and aware of the implicit evaluation of her taking place whether she was invited to the ball or not? About the message it sent me about where my worth lay and how I didn’t really belong? Were these really your values and what you stood for?

    As I recall, your reaction to having your choices questioned was similar then to your reaction when Naomi Wolf refuted your story and called you out on your language — injured outrage at being “criticised” and sulky resentment for someone trying to spoil your fun. And seeing yourself as the one in need of an apology.

If I were PM I’d cancel Angus Taylor.

68 thoughts on “Weekly salon 15/12”

  1. Brian:

    If I were PM I’d cancel Angus Taylor.

    The PM seems to be realizing that being a climate smart-arse while Australia burns may not actually be smart. Be surprised if the PM doesn’t cancel Taylor soon to try and save the PM’s bacon.

  2. 26-year study shows Greenland is losing ice much faster than expected

    The team calculated that in that time, Greenland has lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice, which has raised global sea levels by 10.6 mm (0.4 in). The ice loss has also been speeding up, so that it’s melting more than seven times faster now – up from an average of 33 billion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 254 billion tonnes this decade.
    At its most intense, ice losses were even greater – around 2011 annual ice loss was at a whopping 335 billion tonnes, or 10 times the 1990s’ rate. Things slowed down a little in recent years – to 238 billion tonnes per year – but this is still seven times faster than in the 1990s. Plus the dataset is missing 2019, which is expected to be warmer.
    Using regional climate models, the researchers were able to show that around 52 percent of this ice loss was the result of warmer air temperatures, while the other 48 percent was due to warmer waters.
    All this material has to go somewhere, of course, and that somewhere is the ocean. As such, sea levels are also rising about seven times faster now than they were in the 1990s.

  3. still seven times faster than in the 1990s

    James Hansen worked out about five years ago that if ice sheet decay doubled every 10 years, as seems possible with forcing about 10 times or more than we’ve known in the past few tens of mil;lions of years, then we could get 5m sea level rise by 2100.

    There is a significant risk he may be right.

  4. Re the UK election, the Greens had one seat, Brighton Pavilion, which they retained with an increased majority. Caroline Lucas, the Greens leader, has held the seat since 2010.

  5. You may well say first-past-the-post is ridiculous, Brian. I couldn’t possibly comment.

    However, it is at present the voting system they use in the UK. Candidates and Parties are aware of that. More importantly, the voters are aware. So there may be ‘tactical voting’ by voters who think
    a) their preferred candidate has no chance, or
    b) there’s a candidate they can’t stand, for example trhe sitting MP, or….

    So some voters in effect do what cunning Australians do when they direct their second preference very deliberately.

    First-past-the-post always amplifies the representation of the Party which secures the largest vote. That is a feature, not a defect.

    I haven’t heard any UK commentator or politician advocating either proportional representation on a Party List system, or Aussie preferential voting.

    Perhaps John D, our student of voting systems and innovator, can set me straight on that.

    BTW I think Mr Corbyn deserved to lose.
    In a two horse race, if the winner is of poor quality, take a very hard look at the other runners. it’s fair to ask how much poorer the second place getter must have been, to lose to that one!
    Mr Corbyn should vacate the leadership immediately.

    He says that Labour policies were supported by millions of voters across the UK. That’s true. But not enough, Jeremy.

    Not enough. You have done very badly, Jeremy. You leave a huge barrier for your successor and Party. Not a legacy to be proud of. Please go down to your allotment and find the Humility Herb.

  6. If I was an English voter I would have wanted to vote against Brexit and have my say re whether the Conservatives or Labor formed government. However, because England uses first past the post and in most electorates I couldn’t do both let alone indicate my support for Green policies. (In Scotland I would have been able to do both by voting Scottish Nationals but that is pure coincidence and not a feature of the Scottish system.)
    If England had the Australian voting system I could have done all the above.
    The UK would also have been better off with an Australian style Senate that better reflects the will of the people and could block some of the stupidity coming from both the major parties.

  7. Kevin Bonham has a takeout message for us:

    The Corbyn defeat is such an extreme example that it would be unwise to regard it as telling us that much we don’t already know from our own election. Save, perhaps, that the idea voters really want expansive leftism (which was given some credence by Corbyn’s performance against a poor Tory campaign in 2017) has been demolished, so Labor won’t win here by trying to out-green the Greens.

    Jim Chalmers has said the UK election shows the centre-left can’t win by ‘preaching’ to its base – ‘you don’t beat populism of the right with populism of the left’.

  8. Brian:

    The Corbyn defeat is such an extreme example that it would be unwise to regard it as telling us that much we don’t already know from our own election.

    Just a reminder. Labor nearly won the last election and probably would have except for things like the extreme hostility of the Murdoch press, Palmer’s add campaign and a politically unwise decision on franking credits.
    By contrast Corbyn was a walking disaster with a whole lot of reasons for not voting for him.
    Small target Labor in Aus? Can’t see it working unless the LNP collapses.

  9. John, I think Albo is heading for bigger targets in a smaller number of areas, like restoring the dignity of work. Climate change is one of his big areas.

    Problem is the economy may collapse, but people who are vulnerable may not back Labor in these circumstances.

    Foolishly, the poor and the vulnerable sometimes believe that people who a wealthy of at least well-off know to run an economy.

  10. Ambi, further up you said:

    First-past-the-post always amplifies the representation of the Party which secures the largest vote. That is a feature, not a defect.

    I beg to disagree. It’s a defect of the UK as a democracy.

    An appointed House of Lords is another defect.

    Johnson now has five years of almost elected dictatorship.

    I don’t know who I would have voted for, but I think Brits now have good reason to be afraid.

  11. Zoot: Death of the Anglosphere is a bit stark but it is a reminder that we and our leaders have forgotten the lessons that came from the depression and WWII. Lessons that made the fifties a time of hope, improving lives, reducing unfairness and growing services. True in the US, Australia and much of the democratic world.
    Then we started thinking that nothing could go wrong..

  12. “Johnson now has five years of almost elected dictatorship”.

    Does that judgement on his Govt follow on logically from the defects you detect in the UK electoral system?

    If so, then as that system hasn’t been altered appreciably in many years, every PM over there has been a kind of “elected dictator”: May, Cameron, Brown (Party appointed), Blair, Major, Thatcher, Callaghan, Wilson, Heath, Eden, Macmillan, Churchill, …. each of them foisted on a long suffering public by an undemocratic voting system.


    I’m not arguing that Mr Johnson is an ideal PM, but I reckon Mr Corbyn was a very poor Opposition Leader (and to reheat an old, cold meal: Mrs Clinton was a very poor candidate for Pres in 2016). It may be a trap in logic, but I reckon every criterion that one may put forward to mark down PM Johnson or Pres Trump as bad choices for their electors, only serves equally to mark down their principal opponent as an even poorer choice.

    Once the votes have been counted, the result is clear.
    Excuses won’t wash. Mr Corbyn failed.

    It was like a batting collapse in cricket: the scoreboard doesn’t lie. A loss is a loss is a loss.

    It’s a loss, not some kind of disguised win.

    If you want the policies of Party A to be carried out, then as a bare minimum, Party A must emerge as the clear choice of the voters, or the lead group in a governing coalition.

  13. If so, then as that system hasn’t been altered appreciably in many years, every PM over there has been a kind of “elected dictator”: May, Cameron, Brown (Party appointed), Blair, Major, Thatcher, Callaghan, Wilson, Heath, Eden, Macmillan, Churchill, …. each of them foisted on a long suffering public by an undemocratic voting system.


    Correct. I’m not arguing the voters got it wrong, just that the Old Dart doesn’t have the best model of democracy on the planet.

    And that his mandate isn’t as clear as one would think from the number of seats won, because about 56% of voters voted someone not of his party.

    Peter Brent says Johnson would have won, he thinks, under a preferential system similar to ours.

    Stephen Bush in the New Statesman says that one advantage of the first-past-the-post system was that provided stable government, on the whole, and avoided the extremism of right and left you see emerging in European preferential systems.

    He argues that many would say that both main parties this time were extremist.

    Bush argues also that while Johnson has the power to not allow another Scottish referendum he should not use that power, as the Scots have the right to shape their own destiny.

  14. Many, including people in Labour, are saying Corbyn should quit now. The main problem is that they have no elected deputy, the deputy having shot through and then lost his seat.

  15. Ambi, on reflection, I wouldn’t call the UK voting system ‘undemocratic’, just not as democratic as it could be.

    When I made my comment about an “elected dictatorship” I’d seen the headline The Conservatives will use their triumph to ruthlessly reshape British democracy.

    The UK has no written constitution, and they’ve prided themselves in acting in a civilised way without one. The suggestion now is that the place will become more authoritarian.

    Their election manifesto included:

    “After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the government, parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords,” the manifesto declared.

  16. I’m not pushing any barrow here. These figures are from a meme calling for proportional representation in the UK.
    Total votes for each party divided by the number of seats they won, i.e. votes per MP
    Greens: 865,697
    Lib Dem: 336,038
    Labour: 50,835
    Conservative: 38,264
    SNP: 25,882

  17. Ambi:

    “Johnson now has five years of almost elected dictatorship”.

    Not true. Unlike the US system under the UK system Johnson can be thrown out as leader by a majority of the Conservative members or a majority of Parliament. Our system is much the same. He does not get any protection from the laws of the land.

  18. Zoot

    Total votes for each party divided by the number of seats they won, i.e. votes per MP
    Greens: 865,697
    Lib Dem: 336,038
    Labour: 50,835
    Conservative: 38,264
    SNP: 25,882

    That’s actually a good point.
    Also Sinn Féin got 7 seats at 25979 votes a pop and DUP got 8 seats for 30,516 votes each.

    That would illustrate both Scotland and Northern Ireland voters have far more individual vote power than English voters in Westminster.

  19. John, Ambi was quoting me. Please note I said almost.

    People thought the institutions of government would act as a restraint to Trump. The result has been unattractive to say the least.

    The worry here is that Johnson has considerable authority now within the Party. That Party can now make laws that change the way government works without the constraint of a constitution.

    We’ll just have to wait and see how all that works out.

  20. The AFR has an article today where the SNP are saying that if they aren’t given a referendum on independence it will be tantamount to Johnson holding them prisoner.

    That brought as response pointing out that there were several parties contesting the election in Scotland, and that SNP only got 44% of the vote.

  21. Zoot: If the Greens had the same seats:votes ratio as the conservatives they would have won 23 seats. Maybe even more in the Aus preference system where voting Green didn’t mean throwing away your vote in the big contest.
    Labor would have won 33% more seats if their ratio was the same as the conservatives.
    The “sweeping victory” given to the Conservatives would have disappeared if number of seats was proportional to number of votes.
    The BBC election results table had the Conservatives winning 43.6% of the vote compared with 43.7% for the combined Labour+Liberal Democrat vote. Turnout was only 67.3%.
    The Greens got 1 seat with 2.7%. The parties who got less than this got 22 seats with a combined vote also of 2.7%. The Greens woz robbed! Obscenely robbed.

  22. John, that’s one of many good arguments for your suggestions regarding a more representative system.

  23. Brian

    That brought as response pointing out that there were several parties contesting the election in Scotland, and that SNP only got 44% of the vote.

    That I did not know, thanks
    If it had have been over 50% then BoJo could have been called a hypocrite for denying a referendum. But he can’t because there’s no majority mandate for it.

  24. Brian:

    That brought as response pointing out that there were several parties contesting the election in Scotland, and that SNP only got 44% of the vote.

    My completely unbiased response is that my understanding is that Brexit seriously disadvantages Scotland and the results to a new referendum may well reflect this.
    BBC results for Scotland gave the clearly anti-brexit vote at 54.5% ( 45% SNP+9.5% LDP.)

  25. ( I don’t want to disrupt the flow of the thread but is anyone else convinced that Willy Wagtails know when rain is coming? I’ve been told that by old folk and observed it many times myself. You’ll be in a dry spell and out of the blue there a flourish of Willy Wagtail activity on the ground, next day or two, rain. )

  26. John, as Ambi said further up (I think) the voting system affects how people vote. I think one of the biggest arguments against FPTP is that it suppresses the emergence of new parties.

    It’s still more difficult than it should be in our HoR system.

    Jumpy, I’m inclined to think stories about willy wagtails, ants etc are based on coincidence.

    There is another one about a dog knowing when its owner is going to arrive home. actual research was done to show this wasn’t so.

    That said, I’m not suggesting that research dollars go into9investigating willy wagtails.

  27. Brian, yeah, it may be a Donegal postman type thing.

    I’d love to find a book about Aboriginal observations with flora, fauna and weather “ coincidences “

    Growing up we had Kelpie at the beach and the bus stop was about a K from our house. Mum said as soon as she saw Rusty jump up and run, I’d be home soon. He was waiting at the stop every time I got of the bus.
    I put it down to either hearing the buses distinctive engine sound or the rumble of a rare heavy vehicle through the ground.

    At any rate, my Dad will not go line fishing for mullet till the wattles bloom. They row up then and get hungry. Late wattles/ late mullet.
    He got that from Aboriginals.

  28. On a similar note:
    My grandfather was convinced a certain number would win the lottery so instead of catching the bus home he walked up the highway, stopping at every shop that sold lottery tickets until he found the ticket with that number, which he promptly bought.
    You won’t be surprised when I tell you he won first prize (£1000 – a significant amount in 1943).
    My grandmother told me this story after he had died and I was suitably gobsmacked.
    It wasn’t until after she too had dropped off the perch it occurred to me that I should have asked how many times he did this and purchased a ticket which didn’t win.

  29. I’m not sure what you’re getting at but if that comment was a response to mine, rest assured none of my grandparents were Scots.

  30. Jumpy:

    Scottish logic is hereditary it seems.

    O Aye. In my case.
    Shame none of your Scottish ancestors innate logical skills filtered down to you. (Just joking of course, but too hard to resist the opportunity.)

  31. John, there may be an Irish, German, English or other ancestral gene ( Bradman only knows ) genetic thing going on.

    Here’s a joke I thought up today,

    A friend of mine was booked in for a vasectomy but he pulled out at the last second.

  32. Stephen Bush says the Johnson win is not a landslide, rather a large working majority.

    He also says Johnson may find he can’t do anything he likes:

    Of course, neither Thatcher nor Blair were immune from political setbacks even with their landslide majority – don’t forget it was the landslide parliament of 1987 that ousted Thatcher over the poll tax – and the governments of Eden, Macmillan, Wilson and late period Blair had to retreat over a number of issues.

  33. Jumpy, you clown, you….

    Newspaper Poster (remember those?):


  34. The strongly negative reception of her Poll Tax propsal surprised Mrs Thatcher, I think.

    It was seen as so clearly unfair by a large number of British voters…. *

    Perhaps a bit of Reaganomics over-reach by the Blessed Margaret, akin to Mr Howard’s final Work Choices error, when he was unrestrained by having to negotiate contentious matters through the Senate…?

    * see ‘regressive’, ‘worse than a flat tax’, ‘hitting the poor hardest’, etc.

  35. It’s getting a bit boisterous in the UK Labour Party.

    A Labour MP who lost her seat (a ‘Leave seat’) claimed that a leadership contender, Emily Thornberry, told her after the referendum that her (Leave-voting) consituents were “stupid”.

    From “The Guardian”:

    Emily Thornberry, a potential Labour leadership candidate, has threatened to sue her former colleague Caroline Flint for “making up shit” about her.

    Thornberry said she had consulted lawyers after Flint, who lost her Don Valley seat last week, claimed on live television that Thornberry had once said to a fellow MP in a leave-voting seat that she was “glad my constituents aren’t as stupid as yours”.

    Thornberry told Sky News: “I’ve contacted her and I’ve said to her: please withdraw, I’ll give you until the end of the day. And she hasn’t. So I’ve had to go to solicitors.

    “People can slag me off as long as it’s true, I can take it on the chin. But they can’t make up shit about me – and if they do, I have to take it to the courts.”

    She added: “It’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. I have better things to think about than people going on television and making up shit.

    “I have no idea what’s in her head. All I can tell you is that you can’t go on national television and make up shit and not expect to be taken to the courts, and that’s what I’m afraid I’m having to do.”

    IMO this makes or Aussie Labor MPs look like the very model of decorum and politesse. Oh for the days of plain-speaking, sink-the-slipper outbursts….

  36. Yes, Zoot, but I remind people that Peter Brent said:

    if you add together Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green votes then a little over 50 per cent of UK voters went for a party that wanted a second referendum on Brexit.

    Personally I thought a second referendum was justified.

  37. Brian,

    In many electoral systems there are many votes which (after the event) appear to have been “wasted”. In a seat going Tory with 53%, the other 47% may well say, “the elected MP doesn’t represent me”.

    Millions of votes are always wasted in that sense.
    (At least in Australia a voter has the assurance that her Senate vote is more likely to count towards a concrete outcome.)

    But it’s the total of MPs elected that ultimately counts in a Parliament. Not a total of votes for Parties across the nation.

    In this UK election it makes little sense to add up those votes for Labour, Lib Dem and other parties as a grand total. Many of those votes elected an MP, but those that didn’t were, sadly, wasted.

    (In Australia, many votes in a so-called safe seat are likewise “wasted”. An ALP MHR receives 76%, say. She needed only 50.1% to be elected. 25.9% of the votes she received were “surplus” to requirements. Of course tge associated Senate votes may well count to assist that MP’s Party, indirectly. And her “surplus” gives her a useful buffer for the next election if she stands again. Also her Party might be able to save money on advertising in her seat…..)

    There was a good point about tactical voting upthread: to cast an effective tactical vote, the elector needs to have a very good prediction of how the votes are most likely to fall in that consituency. Tricky.

  38. In this UK election it makes little sense to add up those votes for Labour, Lib Dem and other parties as a grand total. Many of those votes elected an MP, but those that didn’t were, sadly, wasted.

    Peter Brent’s main point is that the election was not a referendum on Brexit. There were several main reasons which shifted votes and gave the UK the result it got. Short of post-poll formal analysis he is suggesting that there were several main reasons. Brexit may have been the greatest, but may not have in itself done the trick.

    Anyone-but-Corbyn, even if that gave them Johnson, seems to me a significant factor.

    For me, it’s a shame that a party which was aiming for net zero emissions by 2030 couldn’t be elected.

    It will be a shame too if progressive parties everywhere think they have to move to the centre (whatever that means) or languish in opposition. I didn’t look at their policies in detail, but they included nationalising electricity retail, which I think is a no-brainer. Nationalising rail would also have presented opportunities for decarbonising transport and getting cars off the road.

  39. Yes Brian,

    And when a Party has several commendable policies, which many rational and compassionate voters support, what a pity that it faces a general election with
    * an unpopular person heading it, who seems not to have
    very few leadership skills, and
    * policies whose costing seems hazy, and
    * a reputation for institutional anti-semitism (a scourge that should by now have been stamped out in Europe), and
    * factionalism leading to resignations from the Parliament and threats to de-select sitting MPs, and
    * an apparent throwback to the early 1980s when organised Trotskyites (“Militant”) entered Labour in an attempt to swing it further left. The tactic is sometimes called ‘entrism’.

    I cast “Momentum” in a similar role in recent years.
    But as pointed out by several posters here, the UK Labour leadership process allowed a kind of entrist move again.

    What a pity all of the above queered Labour’s pitch.

    I don’t think it was just Brexit, at all.

  40. In the Case for Three Member Electorates I said that desirable features of electoral systems include:
    1. All voters have at least one local member.
    2. Government is awarded to the winner of the two party* preferred (2PP) vote.
    3. Who forms government is decided by the voters, not post election negotiations.
    4. The opposition is not reduced to a point where they will struggle to provide a viable alternative or effective opposition.
    5. All voters are important, not just the voters in marginal seats.
    6. Results do not depend on the location of electorate boundaries or differences in the percentage of voters for particular parties from electorate to electorate.
    7. Does not make it too difficult for independents or small parties to win some seats.
    8. Provides no incentive to vote strategically.
    9. One of the members in every electorate is a member of the government.
    10. Provides some check and balance on government decisions.
    11. The government cannot be blocked from raising the money needed to do its job properly.
    12. There are mechanisms for dealing with deadlocks.
    13. It is difficult for a vote of no confidence to force an early election. I would want to add:
    14. Compulsory voting
    15. Voting at weekends, not during the week.
    16. Cap on campaign spending.
    If I was writing a new list with the UK and US elections in mind. (The UK turnout was only 67%.)
    All you can say for the UK system is that it guarantees that “All voters have at least one local member.” The rest depends on lucky coincidence.
    The Australian system (lower house + Senate) manages to satisfy items 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12 to some extent. However, only item 1 would survive if we got rid of the Senate.

  41. Thank you John.

    You’re a tireless and thoughtful reformer.

    BTW, if there were a cap on spending, would you have separate caps on each of these:
    * Radio ads
    * TV ads
    * Print ads?
    Or just an overall cap?

    Would you propose more Govt funded TV, radio spots, or fewer?

  42. Ambi: Capping is a problem because you have to decide what to do with the likes of Palmer spending big in a way that favours one party while not suppressing any new, minor party.
    You also have a problem with all the free help provided to the LNP by the Murdoch press. (What value in a supposedly disinterested article in a key newspaper?)
    For a start:
    Donations should be reported when they are made, not after the election.
    Limit on donations from each individual/organization.
    Allocated space/time on the basis of votes received in the last election.

  43. Yes, it’s tricky.

    You can have fakery of all kinds.

    I agree that we shouldn’t have rules that discourage new Parties.

    In my time I recall the births of:
    the Australian Democrats
    Australian Greens
    People for Nuclear Disarmament
    Australia Party
    That Fred Nile mob up Sydney way
    Family First
    Socialist Party of Australia [Moscow line communists]
    Liberal Democratic Party
    Nick Xenophon Party
    One Nation
    Bob Katter Fan Club
    Hunters Shooters Fishers
    Sex Party (or was that just a party, party, party romp?)
    Motor Enthusiasts
    DLP (second incarnation in Victoria)
    Reason Party

    and there must have been dozens of others….

    who sez we’re not an imaginative bunch??

  44. Note to Jumpy: no, I didn’t live through the Labor Split of the 1950s. But there are some reasonable historians of it….

  45. John

    You also have a problem with all the free help provided to the LNP by the Murdoch press.

    The press in Australia is overwhelmingly anti LNP.
    Tiny Murdoch reach is just for rusted on’s.

    What of all the massive amounts of taxpayer dollars spent advocating greens policies through the ABC ?

    Btw, I have no problems with the likes of Turpie giving $450k or Chilla Bulbeck‘s $600k or even Graeme Wood‘s $1,600 k influence to the greens, it their money to do what they want.

    Start talking to me about Murdoch when the ABC and SBS are not Both 1.something Billion Dollar advertising entities for greens and ALP annually.

  46. Seen it ages ago.
    Tell me the reach and eyeballs of Murdoch compared to the rest as a percentage, it’s tiny, way, way less than 50%. My inquiries put it a < 15% ( generous).

    Who else in the press in Australia other than Murdoch dares to have a majority of conservative content ?

    In any event, the MSM papers and TV are in a financial and influential downward spiral.

    In happier political news for the identity politics, equity of outcome, Marxist types, the Brits voted in the most female MPs ( why that’s important is not clear to me ) and the most ethic minority MPs ( why that’s important is not clear to me ) in UK history !!
    Well voted UK, right ?

  47. John

    However, only item 1 would survive if we got rid of the Senate

    Like Queensland and New Zealand?
    I look forward to hearing your condemnation of their illegitimate governmental powers and non democratic leaders.


  48. Interesting that you cite the higher proportion of female MPs and higher numbers of “minority” ethnicities in the new House of Commons, Jumpy.

    This morning on ABC Radio National they played audio of PM Boris Johnson in the House of Commoners, saying the new Parliament was a vast improvement on its recent predecessor. And he cited both of those changes with apparent approval, indeed glee.

    My questions to you are:
    1. Is PM Johnson foolish to think those two observations are worth mentioning?
    2. Is PM Johnson in fact an “identity politics, Marxist type”?
    (If he is, you can be the first to call him out. You have the opportunity to score a world exclusive FIRST for Australia. Go on, Jumpy: seize the day, cobber! Carpe diem old chap.)

  49. Jumpy:

    Like Queensland and New Zealand?
    I look forward to hearing your condemnation of their illegitimate governmental powers and non democratic leaders.

    The state that gave us Joh is not a good example of robust democracy. The checks and balances are just not there. All the Qld system guarantees is that everyone will have a member of parliament.
    The list was written as a response to Newman’s landslide win.
    Not in a position to comment on the land that Joh came from. However, their system avoids some of the problems of the simple Qld system by being more complex.

  50. 1) just a fig leaf to the media indoctrinated for some sort of unity, and to some extent, to heal the division that the left rely on to get power.
    2) Don’t think so.

    It really doesn’t matter to non sexists and non racists who the voters deem good, honest or most competent.

    Does it matter to you ?

  51. John, you never seem to complain when a leftist party has the power.
    We have cyclical political appointments historically.

    I want less governmental and bureaucratic power so half the population isn’t oppressed every half cycle.

  52. Jumpy at 9.12pm.

    Along with the late Dr Martin Luther King and many others, I’m more interested in the quality of a person’s character than the colour of their skin. I have a dream, along those lines.

    But he was a preacher in a far-off land, in another, kinder time.

    Peace be upon you.

  53. Ambi:

    But he was a preacher in a far-off land, in another, kinder time.

    Not sure what you are trying to say but Martin Luther King was assassinated in April 1968 during serious conflict between oppressed Afro Americans and their long time white oppressors. Err. what is your definition of “kinder times” in this context?

  54. No times are completely kind and peaceful.
    No leader is perfect.

    In his time the Reverend Dr King led enormous peaceful marches in Washington and the South. He chose the path of Gandhi (in contrast to other black spokespersons such as Stokely Carmichael, the Black Panthers et al who appeared to endorse rioting as a political tactic). He was beginning to turn against the most violent foreign actions of his nation, in Viet Nam. He preached brotherhood while white bigots spat in his face and lynched men, murdered children, burned down churches, et cetera.

    He was a person of kindness, gentleness and steely resolve. He brought many people of goodwill to see the rightness of his causes.

    His was not the only assassination in those days, not that any murder can be excused.

    RIP Dr King
    RIP Robert Kennedy

    RIP two young men in Prague who self-immolated in the aftermath of Warsaw Pact tanks crushing the “Prague Spring”.

  55. Non-Secular Message Alert.

    [youse ‘ave been warned, OK?]

    Seasons greetings to all posters and lurkers here, and thanks to Brian and John for all your sterling efforts this year.

    ‘umble ‘ambi

    in ‘er gracious majesty’s very own state.
    Long Live Queen Victoria and Prince Albert !!

  56. “I Could Chew On This, and other poems by dogs” was transcribed by Francesco Marciuliano for Chronicle Books (San Francisco) in 2013.


    Scruffles is our leader
    Scruffles is our king
    Scruffles is the captain of our pack
    Scruffles’ praises we each sing
    Scruffles is who we always follow
    Scruffles led us to an abandoned factory
    In the middle of freaking nowhere
    And not even a fun abandoned factory
    But one that made belt buckles
    Now Scruffles is why we’re all thinking
    We really need some sort of voting process
    Or at least a system of checks and balances.

    “I could chew on this”

    How come when I bite down on
    this toy it doesn’t go “Squeak”?
    Maybe because – as you just screamed –
    I’m really chewing on your favourite shoe
    Or maybe because
    I really need to get more of it in my mouth.

  57. In breaking news, an Anglo-American married couple with a young son have taken to heart the excoriation dished out here by Mr J, of persons sucking from the teat of Big Government (taxpayers’ money ), have decided to become financially independent, and have made clear their distaste for the hyenas of the Press.

    Ms Markle and Harry Mountbatten-Windsor by name.

  58. Good on them if they choose that.
    They’re pretty much surplus Royal succession requirements anyway.

  59. It seems the husband mainly wants to protect his wife from 24/7 media scrutiny and false reporting.

    Good on him.

  60. Yes, they’ve been giving her a bad time, and Harry knows what they did to his mum.

    Can only wish them well.

  61. I had another one of those days yesterday. Computer picked up some malware that I needed help to get rid of. However, my settings for Firefox, the browser I use, have been scrambled and I’ve lost some stuff I was going to write about.

    These things are sent to try us!

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